Professional school class teaches a trade with far reaching implications

Claudener Pierre teaches students how to make knotted bracelets during professional school. Rachel Newville / Imagine Missions

Crowded around tables with paper, string and leather, young Haitians are hard at work learning skills for life.

In 2015, Imagine Missions started a professional trade school to preparing our children for life after they graduate. Classes are offered every Saturday morning. One of the more popular classes teaches students how to make jewelry and sandals.

After attending a professional school outside of the orphanage and perfecting basic techniques, now 25-year-old Claudener Pierre expanded his skill set, creating ways to simplify the bracelet making process. He then started to teach the children in the orphanage how to make bracelets and sandals.

Claudener came to the orphanage when he was 12 and started working for the orphanage in 2012. He is currently a dorm father in the little boy’s dorm.

He now teaches the professional school class with Madam Bodyo, a local artisan. Lauren Neder, an Imagine Missions board member, remembers being impressed by Claudener’s dedication to the craft.

“He would take a few nails and nail them into a block of wood so it was easier for the kids to make the bracelets,” she said. "He asked Melissa (the co-director of Imagine Missions) for help getting a leather press for the soles and now he has a whole operation.”

As he improved his trade, Claudener started selling his products at the team house, along with the products the children make in class. Savings accounts have been set up for each child to deposit their profits into.

Claudener attaches tags with the name of the child that created the item so the profit can go directly into that child's saving account. Rachel Newville / Imagine Missions

There are two types of bracelets and necklaces made at the orphanage, braided and beaded. The braided bracelets are made on a wooden board with a nail on each end to help the children braid faster.

The beaded bracelets are a little more complex. The beads are made from recycled cardboard; the paper is rolled on a stick, glued and then set in the sun to dry. Once the beads dry they are strung onto a bracelet or necklace along with smaller beads that are purchased at the market.

Lovelie focuses on rolling a bead. Rachel Newville / Imagine Missions

Beads are dipped in varnish and then set in the sun to dry. Rachel Newville / Imagine Missions

Stiley takes a tray of beads outside to dry. Rachel Newville / Imagine MIssion Missions

Students string finished beads into necklaces and bracelets. Rachel Newville / Imagine Missions